India experienced significant human rights issues in 2022, including unlawful and arbitrary killings, freedom of press and violence targeting religious and ethnic minorities, a US report claimed on Monday.
Released by Secretary of State Antony Blinken, the annual human rights reports of the State Department is a mandatory requirement of the US Congress giving details of human rights status in countries across the world.
The latest edition of the annual report slams Russia and China for the massive violation of human rights in these two countries along with some other nations like Iran, North Korea and Myanmar.
Russia's full-scale war against Ukraine beginning in February 2022 has resulted in massive death and destruction, with reports of members of Russia's forces committing war crimes and other atrocities, including summary executions of civilians and horrific accounts of gender-based violence, including sexual violence against women and children, Blinken said in the report.
“In Xinjiang, China, the country report describes how genocide and crimes against humanity continued to occur against predominantly Muslim Uyghurs and members of other ethnic and religious minority groups,” he said.
"Democracy, human rights, and labour rights are mutually reinforcing, and support for democratic renewal is essential to promoting these rights," Blinken said as he announced that President Joe Biden will co-host the second Summit for Democracy with the Governments of Costa Rica, the Netherlands, the Republic of Korea, and the Republic of Zambia on March 29-30.
“The India portion of the country report notes a lack of accountability for official misconduct persisted at all levels of government, contributing to widespread impunity. Lax enforcement, a shortage of trained police officers, and an overburdened and under-resourced court system contributed to a low number of convictions,” it said.
India in the past rejected similar reports by the State Department. The Indian government has asserted that India has well-established democratic practices and robust institutions to safeguard the rights of all.
The government has emphasised that the Indian Constitution provides for adequate safeguards under various statutes for ensuring the protection of human rights.
Among the significant human rights violations in India in the year 2022, as per the State Department, are unlawful and arbitrary killings, including extrajudicial killings; torture or cruel, inhuman, or degrading treatment or punishment by police and prison officials; and harsh and life-threatening prison conditions.
Arbitrary arrest and detention; political prisoners or detainees; arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy; restrictions on freedom of expression and media, including violence or threats of violence, unjustified arrests or prosecutions of journalists, and enforcement of or threat to enforce criminal libel laws to limit expression; are some of the other human rights violations in the country.
It also mentions restrictions on internet freedom; interference with the freedom of peaceful assembly and freedom of association; and harassment of domestic and international human rights organisations; among serious rights violations in India.
Among other issues, it lists lack of investigation of and accountability for gender-based violence, including domestic and intimate partner violence, sexual violence, workplace violence, child, early, and forced marriage, femicide, and other forms of such violence; crimes involving violence or threats of violence targeting members of national/racial/ethnic and minority groups based on religious affiliation, social status or sexual orientation.
"There were reports that government authorities accessed, collected, or used private communication arbitrarily or unlawfully or without appropriate legal authority and developed practices that allow for the arbitrary or unlawful interference with privacy, including the use of technology to arbitrarily or unlawfully surveil or interfere with the privacy of individuals,” it said.
Observing that independent media were active and generally expressed a wide variety of views, the State Department said citizens generally enjoyed freedom of speech, but the government continued to restrict content based on broad public and national interest provisions.